Proving once again that he was not only better, but is still, in fact, infinitely smarter than Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and his Lakers now have the inside track on signing free agent to-be LeBron James when his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers expires at the end of next season.
LeBron’s situation in Cleveland has become untenable not just because Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert treats LeBron like an ex that doesn’t have enough money to move out their shared apartment, but his open support of Donald Trump – who LeBron also can’t stand – makes it seem like he’s already moved on to (and moved in) his next “thing”.
So LeBron as a free agent is a coup, no doubt.
Make no mistake, LeBron is still strong enough to take a team, any team, on a very deep run into the playoffs and if you put him around the right pieces or put the right pieces around him, he can, as he’s done 3 times already now, win the whole thing.
And why this sucks for Jordan is that if Mike hadn’t been so busy protecting his legacy as a player, then he’d have realized that for the last 7 years he’s been an owner and that all his energies should now be focused on becoming a winner as one of those.
But Mike is petty, he’s cheap, he’s tawdry.
He’s taken shots at LeBron Lebron’s whole career, famously coming to heads when he suggested that LeBron was somehow less than by signing with the Heat, intimating that he would have never “Called up Larry… called up Magic…” simply to chase a ring, conveniently forgetting that Larry and Magic, during their primes, considered Mike an upstart and wouldn’t have taken his calls.
Then, given another opportunity to at least be evasive – and show a little political savvy in the interim – when asked who was the better between LeBron and Kobe, Jordan preposterously did the ring math, surmising that Kobe’s 5 made him better than LeBron who has 3.
Meanwhile Magic, who signed a deal that would eventually make him Laker management way back in 1981, who famously owns movie theaters, coffee shops, all kindsa shit; who, at 20 and fresh off being a NCAA champion the year before, became an NBA champion in his rookie year, has known enough to be throughout his entire career, if not conciliatory, then outright complimentary.
I remember how before the 1984 NBA Dunk contest they were asking Magic about the contestants and he laughingly said something like, “All of them done dunked on me!”
And I remember thinking what an odd admission that was for an athlete, as they all like to present themselves as impregnable and invulnerable, but that was part of Magic’s genius.
He lulled you to sleep thinking about what a nice and friendly guy he was, masking the assassin that lurked in his soul.
He’s also been shrewd enough, if you’ve been watching his slippery moves of late, to appeal to LeBron’s vanity, greasing him by telling him how well he’d fit in Laker land, how Lonzo Ball will be the next Jason Kidd and how the Purple and Gold will win from the minute he dons the uniform.
All this is the shit that Mike could and should be doing.
Mike should have 4:44 on repeat talking nothing but Black ownership and how LeBron’s time in Charlotte with the Bobcats could be an apprenticeship of sorts to the time when LeBron invariably becomes an owner himself.
But nope, Mike’s still thinking like a player.
While Magic, as always, is thinking like a boss.